How To Identify Emotional Triggers

Do you know what your emotional triggers are and how to deal with them?

An emotional trigger is an experience, event or memory that sparks an intense emotional reaction that makes us feel uncomfortable. It will be different for each individual.

The goal is to learn to identify these triggers, so we can then learn to navigate through them.

As I get older, I am far more aware of what my emotional triggers are. For me the greatest one is feeling a sense of helplessness or lack of control. This has been extremely prevalent in the past year of COVID lockdown. Having to close down my successful studios for an entire year has taken a huge toll on my emotional wellbeing.

In these situations, I find myself over compensating to keep busy and take action. My heart pounds quickly, I fell anxious, and my mind overloads with ideas of ways I can try and fix and control things.


When I find myself in this state, I have to acknowledge it and try and work through it. Here are some steps I find helpful and I hope they can work for you also.

  1. Firstly, identify the trigger: Ask yourself Is it someone else’s words or actions or your own behavior that have triggered this intense emotion? You cannot control what someone else does, only your reaction to them. If it is your actions or behavior, then you need to learn to own them and work through them.

  2. Be aware of the emotions in your body: Take note of how they show up in your body and how they make you feel. You may not initially be aware that you have been triggered, but instead feel anxious, stressed, depressed or angry. You could have sweaty palms, beating heart, short of breath or a crying outburst. If so, stop and think what it is that has made you physically feel like this, and once again try and work through them.

  3. Remove yourself from the situation: We cannot run away from our problems, however we can take some time out to calm down, process and then reassess the situation. By creating distance physically, you are allowing your mind time to see it for what it is and not just react on impulse.

  4. Communicate: Express yourself by working on your communication skills with yourself and others. Rather than using negative self-talk and placing blame on others, express to them how a certain situation makes you feel. This will not only help with the way you speak to yourself, but also improve on the way you connect with people in your life.

  5. Get professional help: Talking to a therapist, counsellor or life coach, can help provide you with a safe, non-judgmental space to explore deeper.


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